There were question marks surrounding the Japanese, a two-time Grand Slam champion, coming into the tournament following her withdrawal from the Western & Southern Open and was not entirely convincing in an opening round win over compatriot Misaki Doi. Giorgi had an even trickier opener, with the Italian prevailing 7-5 in the deciding set against Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck to set up this second round encounter.
Giorgi and Osaka have only previously faced on one previous occasion, shortly after the Japanese won her first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows two years ago. Playing on home soil it was the world number ten who was in control of that meeting, dropping just five games in their semifinal clash. That meeting was also on hard courts just as this one will be, though was held indoors.
This match will start the night session on the Arthur Ashe Stadium with the players heading onto court at around 19:00 local time. The winner will face either Marta Kostyuk or 31st seed Anastasija Sevastova in the third round on Friday.
Giorgi is an entirely different player to Doi, who Osaka played in the first round. The Italian, a former Wimbledon quarterfinalist and two-time winner on the WTA Tour, is one of the fiercest ball strikers in the game. The Italian will look to dictate play at every opportunity and Osaka must be wary of hitting the ball too short as it is likely that Giorgi will be able to step and control the point from then on.
However, Osaka also plays in a very similar way. She will look to use her first serve to get on top of the point and will look to dictate on return, particularly on second serve. Giorgi can have a low first serve percentage so this could be a key area for Osaka to look at attacking frequently throughout the contest.
Both are good athletes so it is unlikely that either will gain too much ground in trying to push the other out of position though whilst Giorgi is an incredible ball striker off both wings, she perhaps has less variety in her game than Osaka does. The fourth seed may look to vary rallies up with slices and drop shots; this is something that may not be her strength but could prove to be effective against someone who also employs a consistently aggressive style of play.
Osaka comes into the contest as the favorite and should be able to claim victory. However, Giorgi undoubtedly has the weapons to create issues for the 2018 champion, particularly if there are still fitness issues. The 65 spots in the rankings between the two shows that Osaka should progress comfortably, but do expect the Italian to cause some problems.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka in straight sets